On any given night at Magelings Games on Providence Road, a slew of players nestle around the rows of white tables playing Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and various board games. But on a Friday night, in the back room, players cluster around high-rise tables. Their game is Warhammer.
Warhammer, produced by Games Workshop, is a popular tabletop game, a style more commonly known within the community as miniature gaming. Akin to Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer uses 3-D pieces, dubbed miniatures, on a tabletop setting. Players have their own sets of armies, which they use to defeat opposing armies by depleting their health points as they move around the table.
Alex Clayton, a veteran Warhammer player and frequenter of Magelings, says there are two Warhammer hobbies: playing the game and the building and painting of the miniatures — a more creative outlet.
For Clayton and fellow game enthusiast Nick Wagner, as well as other players, Warhammer isn’t just a game but an expression of self. What makes Warhammer different from other tabletop miniature games is the players’ ability to build and customize their own characters and armies. The same can be done with Dungeons & Dragons miniatures without the same meticulous detail.
“The art of painting miniatures is exaggerating without looking exaggerated,” —Nick Wagner, Warhammer enthusiast
The miniature pieces stand only 1.1 inches, and the level of detail is impressive. After painting a monochromatic base coat to hide the cracks and lines of the assembled piece, the artist uses Citadel, a specialized acrylic-based brand of paint for gaming miniatures, to add highlights, shadows and details such as faces and armor designs.
Though the base coat is applied with a larger paint brush, the detail brushes are tiny, commonly ranging from the minuscule size 0000 at less than 0.016 inches in diameter to the larger size 3 at 0.078 inches. While painting, many opt to use a magnification device to make the details easier to bring to life. Some, such as Wagner, just eyeball it. For an individual model, Wagner will spend five to six hours painting until he reaches perfection.
“The art of painting miniatures is exaggerating without looking exaggerated,” Wagner says.
Clayton also spends a large amount of time crafting his armies. He glues the front and back halves of models together to create torsos, then adds legs, arms and other pieces from different miniature sets to create one-of-a-kind characters that can’t be purchased from the pieces Games Workshop offers. To give his miniatures their own individualized traits, he has named his high elf characters after professional wrestlers such as Tommy Dreamer and Randy Savage, and his orcs and goblins after Samuel L. Jackson movie characters such as Elmo McElroy from Formula 51. Clayton says he’s become emotionally attached to his armies and keeps boxes of the crafted miniatures he no longer uses to play.
Casey Clark, another Magelings patron, has also claimed Warhammer as his game and prides himself as a collector. Just like Clayton, Clark has purchased game pieces from different companies to create miniatures that are his own and has built dozens of customized armies. He also continues to collect and build miniatures though he isn’t the avid gamer he used to be.
“This is my golf,” Clark says. “I get to indulge. Building (these models) shows a sense of accomplishment, that my idea has come to fruition.”